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Entertainment behind the scenes

Roman Polanski — winners and losers

July 13, 2010

Europeans celebrated and  stunned U.S. officials vowed to try again to extradite director Roman Polanski if they ever find a “cooperative” jurisdiction in the future.polanski chalet

But where was Hollywood on Monday when Polanski finally won his freedom in Switzerland and avoided a showdown in California over the rape of a 13 year-old girl in 1977? Largely silent,  despite having awarded Polanski a best director Oscar for his searing 2002  movie “The Pianist”,  set in a World War Two ghetto.

For all the criticism in parts of the media of so-called Hollywood liberals,  U.S. supporters of Polanski were hardly standing up to be counted on the day Switzerland rejected a U.S. bid to extradite the film director to face sentencing over having unlawful sex with a minor more than 30 years ago.

In Europe on the other hand, where Polanski has lived, made movies, and carried on as a living film legend, politicians and artists  issued warm statements welcoming his return to the creative community and noting Polanski’s painful personal history as a man who escaped the Holocaust, only to see his pregnant wife murdered by followers of Charles Manson in 1969.

But over the pond,  groups representing sex abuse victims suggested that Polanski was a child predator who had used money and legal loopholes to get away with a heinous crime.  E! Online meanwhile made a Lindsay Lohan connection (Lohan gets a 90 days jail sentence for missing out on alcohol rehab classes, while convicted sex offender Polanski is a free man).

And at the Los Angeles Times,  journalist Patrick Goldstein surmised that the case highlighted a cultural divide between puritan Americans, and French and Italian leaders  “who keep electing guys who seem more infatuated with young women than even (Playboy founder) Hugh Hefner.”

Meanwhile, the wishes of Samantha Geimer, the woman at the center of it all who is now in her 40s, have repeatedly been over-ruled.  Drop it, she has pleaded, arguing that she is victimized again and again each time the  case is back in the news.

So where does the justice lie in Monday’s result? With Polanski? The international legal system? Samantha Geimer? And how can a decision be so feted by the people of one continent and apparently reviled in another?

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